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From Germany to Portugal, proposals to open schools with extended hours are already underway in Europe

He had the idea to announce to Juan Lobato, the leader of the Socialist Party of Madrid (PSM), that if he won the election, he would open schools twelve hours a day in 11 months to promote family reconciliation. And chaos ensued. “They won’t say we teachers take care of it, we are teachers, not carers,” the unions deny, although they are open to the idea of ​​more use of community centres. “It is neither conciliatory nor left-wing,” some say, “to attack this issue from the point of view of working hours.” “That’s great, but until that happens, I need solutions,” answered many parents, especially those from the humblest families.

The sentence is not Lobato’s case. Years ago, countries like Germany or Portugal, among others, implemented what they call “full-time schools”, with longer opening hours than school days, where extracurricular pedagogical activities are offered.

These programs, above all, imply the need to improve the educational results of students by expanding the (voluntary) offer of activities, especially thinking of students who have less means to pay for them, although there is a need to promote family reconciliation. that Lobato added. Cities such as Strasbourg, France or Barcelona also have open courtyard programs in the afternoon, according to information provided by the foundation.

“The problem is not exclusive to Spain,” explains Marta Junque, coordinator of the Barcelona Time Use Initiative. “The problem is in a global context, although it is worse in Spain because working hours end late. But that’s a problem in a world that’s structured on an eight-hour schedule, which was an industrial schedule: eight hours of sleep. Eight for work and eight for free time. But when women joined the market, it ceased to exist.

PSOE and UP They included a clause in the government pact in which they promised to “promote work, family and private life, and the necessary co-responsibility between men and women” through “schedule rationalization” and a “time use law.” Little is known about this announced law, although Labor Minister Yolanda Díaz mentions it from time to time. The Ministry of Equality is also preparing a Caring Advisory Council, which has among its objectives “the development of the rights of co-responsibility with pre-employment”.

“From FAPA Giner de los Ríos, we have been announcing for many years the need to open educational centers as public spaces for citizens,” explains Marí Carmen Morillas, President of the Main Federation of Community Parent Associations of Madrid. “It is very important that citizens use these spaces for everyone. There are areas where in the afternoon children play ball in the street or in the park and next to you you have the sports field of the learning center for nothing,” he adds. .

However, Morillas admits that “reconciling family and work requires a serious and deep debate with policies that protect families”, but also recalls that “there are fathers or mothers who come home late in the afternoon or at night; The reconciliation is like this. It’s very difficult and you depend on your network of contacts or your socio-economic level to cover it and that’s not an option because it’s not fair. Opening centers to resolve reconciliation does not solve such a generalized problem,” he warns.

People consulted for this article agree: Reconciliation is a bank with many legs that shouldn’t depend on school or finding a place for the kids to park while the adults work. But they also recognize that while the ideal is coming, it is necessary to take into account urgent matters. “It is a fundamental problem solving that belongs to the competence of the state and the work schedule, with little flexibility and which makes reconciliation difficult,” sums up Junke.

In this sense, Lobato’s proposal has mirrors in which to look beyond the Pyrenees: Full-time school in Portugal (School to Tempo Intereiro)A country that has gained international relevance in recent years for its educational policy in the sector, or The Ganztagschulen German There are several examples.

The Portuguese model, promoted by the Ministry since 2005 and implemented with the cooperation and funding of municipalities, has extended the opening hours of centers that teach the first cycle of the primary course (from 6 to 10 years in the country) by half. past five in the afternoon, which means adding three to five hours to the school day, depending on the course. The activity usually starts at 9 am. In this expanded schedule, he works on so-called curricular enrichment activities, which include sports, artistic, scientific-technical, environmental and civic competitions.

The program is voluntary and free for families, but it is a mandatory offer for schools and has three main goals: strengthening the base of primary education, equality in access to non-formal education activities and adjusting school time to work time.

The Portuguese model took this last aspect very seriously. The inconsistency between the work schedule and the school schedule caused on the one hand “the carelessness of minors in the afternoon” and “difficulties in reconciling families”, which they often solved by overloading grandparents, reducing work opportunities for mothers or even choosing private schools. which had an additional educational offer in the afternoon”.

The program had – and has – great social recognition, at least in terms of numbers, according to an analysis by the Fundació Jaume Bofill, which attributes it to a “solid political and social pact”. There is now a debate about how to improve the activities and extend them conveniently into the second stage of the primary course, from the age of ten. 80% of students use this extended timetable in a country where the vast majority of students (88%) attend public schools, a situation that contrasts with Spain’s 67%.

The German reform of the school was motivated by what was called in the country The shock of Pisa, explains the Fundació Bofill, when the country saw its students’ PISA results below the OECD average. Further debate culminated in the birth of full-time schools, with the idea that increased teaching time in school would improve outcomes. Less than 20 years later, two out of three German schools left their morning shift to go full-time.

Improving educational outcomes, targeting the most vulnerable, as Morilla argued, was the main goal of the reform, but not the only one. Among the achievements are a more holistic approach to education by promoting social skills in addition to cognitive skills or by opening schools to their communities and making their educational resources – or materials – available to the population.

Also promote reconciliation, an aspect that Lobato focused on in his proposal and which may have sparked some of the barrage of criticism. “A work-family reconciliation policy that is a full-time school model that resolves the incompatibility of fathers’ and mothers’ work and school schedules and a mechanism that promotes the reintegration of employed parents from the labor market into the labor market.” after having children” is cited as another argument, “along with the ever-increasing demand from families for this type of school”. Analyzed from Fundació Bofill. “In short, GTS makes it possible to respond to several simultaneous problems: poor school performance, social inequality between students and reconciliation of work and family.”

In a decentralized state like Germany, there are several models Ganztagschulen. The They are open until 3:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m. or 6:00 p.m., and there are those that offer voluntary non-curricular activities, but there are those where they are compulsory and a third intermediate type, some compulsory and others not. But in all of them, the teaching hours are the same as in the rest of the centers, although with extended working hours, class time can be more flexibly distributed or extracurricular activities can be distributed between subjects. Since their creation, their use has not stopped, and in 2017, 43.9% of students did some kind of activity in parallel with classes.

Developed in Spain by Fundació Jaume Bofill Full-time proposal for “full-time education” which starts from a much wider use of educational centers than mere academic ones, in accordance with the idea of ​​PSM and the Portuguese program, although there is no reconciliation between its motives; It is purely educational.

The authors of the report consider that the current schedule is “rigid and not very adapted to educational needs”, “too homogeneous” and does not favor the individualization of teaching, among other arguments.

The foundation suggests that the centers start at least at eight in the morning and not close until six in the afternoon, a schedule that can be extended if the center in question serves a neighborhood amenity function, such as a library. This time includes “compulsory instructional time and activities” and the document states that this time “is different from teachers’ working hours” to include “other professionals and educators”.

But the idea is not for students to spend those ten hours at the centers because “a full-time study project cannot be detrimental to leisure or family,” so the plan includes a maximum of eight hours at the center for each student. For example, a schedule from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. is suggested. The use of times is complemented by the final instruction: teaching hours are formed from 9:00 or 10:00 to 12:00 or 1:00 and in the afternoon from 14:00 to 16:00, with a lunch break. from 12:00 to 14:00.

Between the teaching hours, the document suggests that “optional educational activities” will be interspersed, which will be carried out in the center itself or outside it. “These activities can be aimed both at supplementing the basic curriculum of school hours and at developing other opportunities in sports, art, etc.,” describes the text with teachers or other similar figures that complement the work of teachers, “this model plays a much more central role.” .

Source: El Diario





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